Photography Guidelines

Choosing the right photo is critical to amplifying the power of your story or promotional effort. Photos play an important role in our efforts to talk about ways that our students, faculty and staff make waves and bring about positive transformation in the world.

Where to Find Compelling Photos

The good news is Western already has banks of photos to choose from that can help you enhance your recruitment/promotional efforts.

Do not use photos found online unless you are positive about the usage rights. When in doubt, contact University Communications to verify if an image is usable.

When using work produced by someone else, it’s always best to credit the photographer. In each of the locations mentioned below, author/photographer information can easily be found for citation purposes.

Flickr and MABEL

Western’s photo journalists and marketers, over the years, have amassed an impressive collection of photos that are vetted and cleared for use. The Flickr account is organized into albums, whereas MABEL has powerful advanced search features.

Browse Photos on Flickr   Search for Photos on MABEL

Western Today Photos

Western Today is constantly running stories with accompanying photos about all the awesome things happening at Western.

Browse Western Today's Photos

Take Your Own Photos

We highly encourage you to take your own photos if you need specific subjects/imagery. You don't need the latest and greatest equipment if you’re taking photos for social media or the web. The most critical thing is making sure you have permission from the individuals you are photographing. When taking photos of people, be sure to have them fill out the Permission/Release form.

Check Out a Camera from ATUS

If you do need a camera that's a step up from a smart phone, ATUS can loan you a professional SLR camera and lenses. Learn more at



These days, most smart phones take decent photos and allow for a lot of lighting/setting controls and post-production tools. But sometimes you want to snap really professional looking photos. If you don’t own or have access to a quality digital camera, ATUS has a great selection of DSLR digital cameras. An SLR is ideal for large size files with JPG file format that can be lightly edited or come out of the camera ready to go online.

Find the Right Places

Gathering photos to cover any circumstance, event or person can be a process. Start wide, finish tight. Gather what the entire room/area looks like from a wide shot and work your way to details and individuals. This will give you and your designers a range of imagery to work with that varies in subject matter, composition and design space.

Consider Lighting

Remember that despite the amazing technology we have for digital imagery, nothing is anywhere near what the human eye is capable of. It is always darker than you think–especially interiors. Avoid backlit subjects, low office/interior lighting, shadows on faces or eyes and discolored light sources. Of course, this comes at the mercy of the location's existing lighting and is not always easy to adjust. Use lenses with an aperture of 2.8 or “lower,” 2.0, 1.8 etc. to help close the gap in most settings.

Get it in the Frame

Framing for most personal portraits is usually from the hands, or waist, up, and slightly elevated from the eye line. This avoids looking up your nose, or unflattering angles. Use the grid lines on the screen to see where to place the most important parts of your shot (such as faces). Those lines and intersections mark the spots our eyes naturally search for the most important parts of the image. Have your subject turn slightly one shoulder in front of the other. This creates nice natural angles and avoids straight on direct angles.

Experiment and Have Fun

Try a range of shots: vertical, wide, high elevated angle, low floor angles, views from the crowd, views from the wings, etc. Once you have those safety shots in the bag, try a few more fun, relaxed options. Include emotions and anticipate moments. Try photos in your home habitat and on your own time like your kitchen, backyard garden, porch or streetscape. Practice really does make perfect!

People Respond to Energy

As a photographer, it’s important to project the energy and engagement that you wish to photograph. People are generally very understanding and patient if you are so yourself as well. Don’t hesitate to be confident, ask politely, respect their wish when they don’t want their photo taken.

Stock Photography

Stock images should be used sparingly, and only when it makes sense to bolster the Western’s MAKE WAVES brand driver. You can work with University Marketing to identify and purchase/obtain an appropriate stock image–just send an email detailing/describing the kind of image(s) you want.

You can also look for your own stock photos. There are many, many stock photography sites. University Marketing recommends using Unsplash. If you endeavor to find your own stock photography, it’s best to run any choices by University Marketing to get a second opinion on appropriateness and fit.

Creative Commons or Public Domain Photos

It’s permissible to use creative commons license or public domain photos. A creative commons license grants basic rights, such as the right to distribute work for non-commercial purposes. There are several different types of creative commons licenses, you should look for the Attribution (BY) version and ensure that you are attributing the image correctly. Another option is to look for public domain images. Those are images with no rights reserved. Usually, the copyright has expired, and generally, these images do not require attribution.

Athletics Photos

Looking for athletics-related imagery? Contact Jeff Evans at to explore options.

Photography/Website Image Standards and Guidelines

Images are encouraged throughout Western’s websites as they provide value and visual interest to the pages. However, presentation is important when choosing the images because they reflect the college, its programs and departments.

Images that do not meet the following standards will not be displayed or will be removed. Questions about specific images may be directed to

Resolution and Size for Drupal Websites

Use this list to determine if your images are formatted correctly for the web.

  • Images should be used at 100 percent of their size at 72 dpi to provide the best loading time for the page.
  • Images should be added to the Media folder then linked correctly to display responsively for mobile devices.
  • The size of the image should be such that any wrapping text is still legible. Images that are extremely horizontal or vertical are more difficult to fit in the format for the website.
  • On pages where there are multiple images (such as a group of cards, or a directory listing), the images should be the same size and quality.
  • It is important to keep the file size as small as possible to ensure that the page loads quickly. In most cases, this can be done by making sure that the physical size of the actual file is the same as the size it should be displayed on the screen.

Note: While it is possible to resize an image using HTML code, it is not a best practice, as it dilutes the quality of the image and often results in a longer page load.

Preferred Formats

Images should be used in a format most technically suited for the image type.

  • JPG/JPEG: The preferred format for posting photography online. JPG/JPEG images can contain millions of colors and can be compressed to your desired size. These sizes are recommended:
    • Photoshop Quality level 80 - small images.
    • Photoshop Quality level 60 - large images.
  • GIF: Generally used for non-photographic images of 256 colors or less, such as logos, icons and arrows.
  • PNG: Non-compressed images that should be used if their file size is comparable to that of a JPG.

Rules of thumb:

  • Images used on the website must be less than 1MB. (30-80kb is preferred).
  • Most images used in blocks can be cropped and resized 4:3 ratios, or 600px x 400px.
  • Header images should be sized 1500w x 350t with the action taking place in the center third of the image, both horizontally and vertically. The average header image saved at 72dpi is approximately 300k in size. Avoid images of text when possible, as often text is not legible when the image is displayed on a phone or other small device.